After photos were published of a Tesla Model S in Washington state burning following a collision, with a subsequent 9.1% dip in the price of Tesla stock, the company issued a statement. The car, “collided with a large metallic object in the middle of the road, causing significant damage to the vehicle,” the EV startup said. For the day, Tesla shares fell 6.2 percent, or $12.05, to close at $180.95 in New York trading on Wednesday. The decline was biggest one day drop in Tesla’s stock price since July 16. Analysts attributed the steep decline on their opinion that the stock was already overvalued, making it susceptible to any bad news.
The company said that the damage sustained was contained within the front end of the car, that the passenger compartment was not compromised in any way and that the Model S performed as designed. “This was not a spontaneous event,” a Tesla spokesperson said. “Every indication we have at this point is that the fire was a result of the collision and the damage sustained through that.”
The driver, who was not injured, pulled over after the car informed him to do so, and then smelled something burning. After exiting the car he called emergency responders, who had some difficulty extinguishing the blaze. At first the fire appeared to be under control, but it reignited and when firefighters decided that water seemed to be intensifying the fire, they switched to a dry chemical fire extinguisher.
To put out the fire, which took place in the front of the car after the driver hit some metal debris, disabling the car, firefighters first dismantled the front end of the Model S and put holes into the battery pack. When that wasn’t effective they used a circular saw to cut an access hole to the battery and extinguished the fire.